Need biodegradable surfactants?

Exxal™ branched alcohols can help

Get the best of both worlds

The surfactant industry faces the challenge of delivering a biodegradable product that meets performance requirements. Many in the industry hold the misconception that there is a trade-off between biodegradability and performance. With our line of Exxal™ branched alcohols we have an effective solution that challenges this misconception. A solution that helps your customer meet their performance and environmental needs.


Are branched alcohol ethoxylates biodegradable? In short: yes!

Despite all the advantages of ethoxylates based on Exxal branched alcohols, such as superior rate of wetting and less gel phases, some manufacturers are reluctant to use branched alcohols due to the perception that branched alcohol ethoxylates do not biodegrade. ExxonMobil has used objective criteria and recognized test methods to show that Exxal branched alcohols and their ethoxylates do readily biodegrade.


One of the EPA and EU approved test methods is the OECD 301F manometric respirometry test that assesses “ultimate” biodegradation, which is the breakdown of the substance by microorganisms, resulting in the production of carbon dioxide, water, mineral salts, and new biomass. The criterion to “pass” as readily biodegradable in the 301F test is to reach 60% degradation in 28 days (for monoconstituent substances this would need to be achieved within a “10-day window”).


Exxal alcohols are readily biodegradable and can be used to make biodegradable non-ionic surfactants

ExxonMobil data

Exxal™ C10
Exxal™ C10/6EO

Exxal alcohols and their ethoxylates are readily biodegradable

All of our alcohols and their ethoxylates meet the OECD readily biodegradable threshold for isomeric mixtures, and most of our alcohol ethoxylates also meet the “10-day window”. According to OECD guidance, the 10-day window should not be applied to isomeric mixtures of similar types of chemicals (e.g. surfactants made from Exxal branched alcohols). However, this requirement may be desired for certification with established eco-labelling programs.


Today, ExxonMobil offers six biodegradable Exxal branched alcohols that can be used to make a wide range of regulatory compliant biodegradable non-ionic surfactants (ethoxylates). Exxal branched alcohols can help fulfill the demand for a biodegradable surfactant that meets regulatory and voluntary standards – without compromising on the quality of your formulation.

ExxonMobil has a diverse alcohol grade slate that meets the standards

Branched alcohol Branched alcohol ethoxylate
ExxalTM 8exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 9exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 95exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 10exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 11exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 13exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 8 - 4EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 8 - 6EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 8 - 8EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 8 - 10EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 9 - 1EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 9 - 3EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 9 - 5EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 9S - 7EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 9 - 8EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 9 - 20EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 10 - 3EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 10 - 6EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 10 - 7EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 11 - 7EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 13 - 3EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 13 - 5EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 13 - 7EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 13 - 8EO exxal-10-6eo
ExxalTM 13 - 9EO exxal-10-6eo
exxal-10 Readily biodegradable (>60%) per OECD 3O1F
exxal-10-6eo Within 10-day window